'This Week' Transcript: Sen. Marco Rubio

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WATCH Sen. Marco Rubio on Cuba: Engagement Won't Guarantee Freedom

Rush transcript for "This Week" on December 21, 2014. This may contain errors and will be updated.

ANNOUNCER: On ABC's This Week, breaking news, assassination. Two New York City police officers killed in an ambush. The gunmen's chilling last message and a shocking allegation from police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That blood on the hands starts in the office of the mayor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Sony hack attack: new details on the federal investigation. How will the president respond? And after all the outrage, will Sony now release the film that started all of this?

Historic breakthrough: the firestorm over that major shift on Cuba and the new battle brewing between GOP heavyweights Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. This Morning, Senator Rubio is here.

And, home for the holidays, giving veterans a brand new start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is incredible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: And we start with that breaking news, the cold-blooded execution of two New York City police officers shot to death as suicidal gunman bent on revenge for killings by police.

The assassination immediately condemned by President Obama and the attorney general, joining a fierce reaction from police in an atmosphere already so highly charged after Ferguson and Staten Island.

ABC's Lindsey Davis is on the scene in Brooklyn. Good morning, Lindsey.

LINDSEY DAVIS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. Police are calling this murder even though the suspect in this case will never have his day in court.

And two police agencies are saying New York's mayor has blood on his hands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS: Last night, officials put the ambush of two New York City police officers here in stark terms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were quite simply assassinated -- targeted for their uniform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These officers were shot execution style.

DAVIS: According to the NYPD, officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in their marked patrol car in Brooklyn when 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley walked up to their vehicle and opened fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired.

DAVIS: Striking both officers in the head at point-blank range.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the floor.

DAVIS: SWAT teams chased the suspect to a nearby subway station. This dramatic video capturing the chaos before he reportedly shot himself in the head.

Police say it all began at 5:45 a.m. Saturday near Baltimore where Brinsley allegedly shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend before leaving this ominous threat of social media, "I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take one of ours, let's take two of theirs," adding, "RIP Eric Garner and RIP Mike Brown," two black men killed by police that have sparked nationwide protests.

At 2:10 p.m. pings from Brinsley's phone alerted Baltimore police he had made it to Brooklyn. They tried to warn the NYPD of the threat, but that warning never made it to the two officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the postings, which I understand that are out there would seem to indicate that he had a very strong bias against police officers.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an at tack on all of us.

DAVIS: But the mayor also taking heat. Former New York Governor George Pataki tweeting, "these barbaric acts sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of Eric Holder and Mayor de Blasio."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It cannot be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS: NYPD officers even turned their backs on the mayor as he walked into last night's press conference. So far, no response just yet from the mayor to his -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Lindsey, thanks.

We're joined now by Ray Kelly, the longest serving commissioner of New York police and New York congressman Gregory Meeks. Welcome to you both.

And Commissioner Kelly, let me begin with you. The anger of the police so palpable right now. Is if fair of them, though, to blame the mayor?

RAY KELLY, FRM. NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Obviously, there's a lot of emotion involved when two police officers are killed. I think when the mayor made statements about that he had to train his son to be -- his son who is biracial -- to be careful when he's dealing with the police, I think that set off this latest firestorm.

And quite frankly, the mayor ran an anti-police campaign last year when he ran for mayor...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're talking about his opposition to Stop and Frisk. Is that what you think was anti-police?

KELLY: Well, I think, yes, a lot of the rhetoric was -- at a time when the police had a 70 percent approval rating. Obviously, that's not the case now during the de Blasio administration.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, if you were commissioner right now, what would you say to your officers?

KELLY: Well, you say to your officers do your job, do what you're sworn to do. And I think that's exactly what officers will do. In my experience, in 45 years in policing, I've never seen officers back off from their sworn duties. I think there's some concern that there will be a reduction or a diminishment of police services. I don't see that happening.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, what about this criticism of the mayor, of the attorney general, what should they be doing right now?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS, (D) NEW YORK: Well, I think they are doing what they should be doing. They've been trying all along to bring the city together. This heinous act is, as the mayor said, it tears away at the fabric of our society. And so we stand with the police department.

No one has ever given up on the police department or said we were anti-police department. What we were crying for was to saying how African-Americans feel, how their communities are policed and want the justice system to work for everyone.

But, you know, everybody that was involved -- we're trying to bring people together. And you heard from the families of Michael Brown and Mr. Garner saying that they did not want any violence at all in any of the demonstrations and definitely this. They've stated very loudly and very clearly how shocked and how opposed they are to the violence and to this assassination of police officers that took place yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Commissioner, the concern now could be copy cats out there as well. And there's this email circulating among the police department right now among all the police last night saying, quote, "we have become a war-time police department. We will act accordingly," they're talking about sending two units now out to every single phone call. Is that's what's going to happen here? And what does it mean to be on a war-time footing?

KELLY: Well, I think cooler heads will prevail. As I said, there was a lot of emotion last night. I think the officers will do their job. I think commissioner will engage with the union and talk about these specifics.

But, you may see a little of that early on here in terms of additional units going to assignments, but I think that'll quiet down pretty quickly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Quiet down over time. But as you know, Congressman Meeks, there's been a national debate over whether police forces have become too militarized in the wake of this. Clearly, police are going to want to feel protected in the wake of this execution.

MEEKS: And we want the police to be protected. We don't want mayhem going on in the communities. And I think that the tone that the mayor is trying to set is a tone that brings people together. And some unfortunate comments I think from Mr. Lynch, because we don't need to divide and separate.

Even during the heart of the demonstrations, folks were saying that we don't -- we believe that 97, 98, 99 percent of the police officers do their job every day. And if you find one, we want to make sure that one justice is rendered there.

And so I hope that the police department and Mr. Lynch -- I think that the commissioner has been doing the right thing, Commissioner Bratton also.

Let's try to bring this city together. We do not need to -- and this country, because it wasn't just a New York City issue, this has been a national issue that we've got to focus on. And I think that that's tremendously important to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It is a national issue.

What should the president do now?

KELLY: Well, I think the president is the ultimate healer and one who brings people together. And I think that's what he's trying to do and his statements are along those lines.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, thank you both very much.

We're going to move now to those fast moving developments in the hack attack on Sony. Federal investigators tracking down the North Koreans behind it. President Obama says he's considering putting North Korea back on the terrorism watch list. And Sony firing back at the president's criticism. Here's ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This morning, the FBI investigation heating up: agents chasing down the names of the North Korean officials who allegedly ordered the cyber attack. One option, charging them as common criminals. Arresting them could prove impossible, but the president vowed there would be a response.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They caused a lot of damage. We will respond. We will respond proportionally. And we'll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.

THOMAS: It all began a month ago. The group calling itself Guardians of Peace demanded Sony scrap the release of The Interview, a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korea's dictator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want to go kill Kim Jong un?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally.

THOMAS: Soon, Sony was hit with what the FBI called a devastating computer network attack.

It was unprecedented, taking computer stations offline, deleting files and posting the company's strategic plans.

Then it got worse, the hackers threatened moviegoers. Sony canceled the New York premiere. Theater chains said they wouldn't show it. And Sony pulled the plug. Game. Set. Match. The hackers won.

The president called out Sony.

OBAMA: I think they made a mistake. I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you are intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.

THOMAS: But Sony's CEO blamed movie theater chains for not showing it. He said he had no choice.

MICHAEL LYNTON, CEO, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT: We have not caved. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.

THOMAS: That might spark another cyber attack from the hackers who say they'll retaliate if the film is ever released.

The response could come from the elite spy unit called Bureau 121, cyber warriors recruited as children and trained at this military school.

The U.S. may consider new sanctions against North Korea and is asking the Chinese government, one of North Korea's only allies, to use its influence.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

THOMAS: The irony is that the request for China's help came only several months after the Justice Department charged several Chinese military officials with hacking U.S. companies -- George, this is a challenging situation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, it is a brand new world.

OK, Pierre, we're going to dig into it now with our experts.

Major General Bret Williams, former director of operations for U.S. Cyber Command, Fran Townsend, former White House Homeland Security director and counter-terrorism adviser, now with CNN. Thor Halvorssen, president and founder of the Human Rights Foundation. And Mitch Singer, former chief digital strategy officer for Sony.

And Mitch, let me begin with you.

You've been pretty outspoken defending Sony.

How would you response to the president's critique.

And Mitch, let me begin with you.

You've been pretty outspoken defending Sony.

How would you response to the president's critique?

MITCH SINGER, FORMER CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGY OFFICER, SONY: We'll look, I mean I -- we all certainly agree with the president, the idea that, you know, a foreign nation reached across the Pacific and actually did this to us is frightening -- is frightening.

And -- but I think -- I think, in the end, if you really think about it, you know, blaming a victim here -- and there's no question that Sony was the victim of unprecedented cyber extortion attack here with, you know, you said it in the setup, with hard drives basically wiped out, private confidential information exposed, employees' private data, medical records, more threatened.

I mean and instead of sitting here and blaming the victim here, I think what we should really be looking at is what's the government going to do here?

And I was -- I've been writing about it because I wanted to change the focus away from Sony Pictures or away from any company that would suffer this type of attack.

You know, when I think of the government's obligation here to, you know, provide common defense and general welfare of the people in companies that do business on the soil, I'd like to focus there. I'd like to see some tangible public policy solutions come out of all of this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk to a former...

SINGER: I'd like to see some private and public, you know, collaboration here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk to a former governor of...

SINGER: You know, if anything...

STEPHANOPOULOS: How -- let me...

SINGER: -- making...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me move on from there right now, because I want to bring up the question that you raised.

SINGER: Sorry.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Major General Bret Williams, you know, you headed cyber command. If you were in that job right now, the president would come to you and say, what can we do?

What's the answer?

MAJOR GENERAL BRET WILLIAMS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, U.S. CYBER COMMAND: And just for clarity, I was the director of operations at cyber command and I -- I see us being challenged on three fronts, if you will.

Number one, I think our ability to understand how we integrate cyber into our national security apparatus, how do we use cyber to exercise the elements of power, diplomatic information, military, economic, etc. Is still developing.

Number two, that's a hard target. North Korea doesn't rely on cyberspace in the same way the United States does, either for national security or economics. And they aren't as connected. And if they aren't as connected, it's much harder to get in.

And then number three, we -- we play by the rules. So anything we do has to account for things like sovereignty. If I change a 1 to a 0 on a hard drive, have I violated somebody's sovereignty?

If I'm asked to go in and shut off the power to a military facility, I've got to guarantee you that it's not going to impact the hospital or the bank.

And so it complicates our problem, but that's what they're doing at Cyber Command right now, is they're developing options for the president that can be rolled up within all of the elements of national power for (INAUDIBLE)...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Fran, you would be part of that process, as well.

What would you do?

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR AND COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISER: That's right.

Well, look, there's a range of things. I think what you heard -- hearing from the general is, one, the offensive cyber piece. But there's also defensive. You can block them. And that's exactly what the administration has asked of the Chinese. We need the Chinese help, because all of their Internet connections, limited as they are (INAUDIBLE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they've been bad actors here, too.

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right, George. And that's the problem. It's not clear that the Chinese will help us here.

You also have, right, adding them to the terror list, financial sanctions. There's this bank account in Macau that the elite use that they really don't want you to touch.

And so there's a -- there's a range of things, including counter-propaganda, right?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that's what I want to talk to Thor Halvorssen about, because you're head of the Human Rights Foundation.

And you've talked about the idea of actually finding a way to get the film into (INAUDIBLE) North Korea, dropping it in on these little USB drives.

THOR HALVORSSEN, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would that really work?

HALVORSSEN: Well, George, we -- we've been doing this for some time and our partners in North Korea -- in South Korea at the border have also been doing it. They're mostly North Korean defectors.

They know it works because many of them came to the South -- to South Korea, escaped North Korea through China, as a result of receiving some of this material.

And North Korea has no Internet connects whatsoever. North Korea, it's the Hermit Kingdom. They try and keep information tightly locked. It's why this film is so dangerous to them, because they perceive the Kims as a God. And a film like this, which would -- you've got that idea flies in the face of that, so that they're terrified of any information that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thor, explain that a little bit more. I've seen the movie. I did -- I thought it was pretty funny, I've got to tell you the truth. And it did -- it did, you know, demystify Kim in...

HALVORSSEN: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- in so many ways, mocked Kim.

Would that really have an effect on the North Korea (INAUDIBLE)?

HALVORSSEN: Absolutely. In fact, there was a young lady that -- she's now working in our office here in New York. She saw "Titanic" as a child. And "Titanic" changed her life.

You'd say well, why?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The North Korean woman?

HALVORSSEN: A North Korean. North Korea. When she was a teenager. This movie she saw that a man was willing to die for a woman for love. This, to her, was completely alien. That was her a-ha moment.

All of these things are dangerous for the regime because they produce a-ha moments in people who've been living under propaganda for so long.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me take that to Mitch Singer.

Why shouldn't Sony just release this online then?

SINGER: Well, you know, it's easy -- it's easy for us to, again, talk to Sony about what they should or they shouldn't do in connection with this -- with this film. And the bottom -- the bottom line, George, on this is that it's not us, it's not up to us or the press or the president to actually tell Sony what to do here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but I'm asking...

(CROSSTALK)

SINGER: -- trying to survive and make...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Sony's responsibility?

SINGER: They're trying -- the -- their responsibility is to continue producing great movies in the future. That's their responsibility. And right now, their responsibility is to get through this and con -- and survive as a -- as a company.

And we're putting too much emphasis on -- on requiring that a single company here, like it's their fault that they didn't stand up to...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let -- let me...

SINGER: -- to terrorism here. That's too much of a burden to put on a victim here...

TOWNSEND: George, there's an opportunity...

SINGER: -- of a crime.

TOWNSEND: -- here for the president to show real leadership, right. Remember, post-9/11, there was the -- that George Bush was is on the pile and takes a microphone, well, the president -- look, you could have it -- this may not be the movie, right, it's the satirical -- a satirical movie. But we could all come together not over the movie, but over the principle of freedom of expression.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So hold a screening at the White House.

TOWNSEND: That's exact -- hold a screening at the White House...

(CROSSTALK)

TOWNSEND: I -- I held a screening --

(CROSSTALK)

TOWNSEND: -- I'd hold a screening in the middle of Times Square. I'd have a national moment of re--- of this release that is a moment for the country to come together to help Sony to heal and get past this. There will be covert things that the president will do, offensive and defensive cyber operations.

But we need to take the leverage away from North Korea. And one of the ways to do that is to have a national moment about this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring those two questions to -- to General Williams, as well.

Number one, if the president takes these covert actions, we may never know about it, right?

WILLIAMS: That -- that's correct. And I would agree with that maybe the best way to do this.

But I think one of the things we have to take out of this is this is the latest in a series of very serious wake-up calls to us. People can us cyber to do very devastating things. And if a -- as bad as this has been for Sony, imagine something with a similar impact on the energy sector or in a big financial institution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that -- that gets to my final question. I was struck by the assistant director of the FBI saying that this could happen to 9 -- this would get through 90 percent of...

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- corporations. If you -- if a corporation came you and said what can I do to protect myself, what's the answer?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think the number one thing that we tell you you have to do is you've got to, at the board and the CEO level, take cyber security as serious as you take business operations and financial operations. It's not good enough to go to your CIO and go, are we good to go?

You've got to be able to ask questions and understand the answers.

And the second thing you've got to do is you've got to invest in a defensible architect. We're still trying to defend the Internet that Al Gore and the team built. And it was never designed to be attacked.

We have to move into something that we can actually effectively defend. And investment needs to be there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very much.

A great discussion.

Up next, that historic breakthrough with Cuba -- President Obama's big policy shift sparks a debate inside the GOP. Senator Marco Rubio will be here to weigh in on his feud with Rand Paul and the White House race -- will he challenge his mentor, Jeb Bush?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our closer now at President Obama's historic move this week on Cuba. His decision to reopen diplomatic relations after a break of more than half a century has drawn a sharp response from GOP leaders like Marco Rubio. We're going to hear from him after this report from ABC's Jim Avila who traveled to Havana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Cuba has long been the forbidden fruit of the Caribbean, history freeze framed. But this week, President Obama officially ended 50 years of American hostility to the socialist island, proclaiming five decades of isolation a failure.

And Raul Castro over the weekend declaring victory for outlasting isolation.

OBAMA: If he had done the same thing for 50 years and nothing has changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome.

AVILA: The president conducting 18 months of secret negotiations, orchestrating an historic prisoner swap. Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor jailed for espionage for five years, and a true spy, a mysterious CIA operative imprisoned for 20 years in exchange for three Cuban agents jailed in the U.S.

Soon, the U.S. will have an actual embassy here in Havana, allowing politicians to talk to each other directly instead of in secret.

Sources tell ABC News, the first State Department official to visit Cuba publicly is scheduled to land in Havana the second week of January followed shortly by the Secretary of State John Kerry.

But critics counter now is the time for the U.S. to step up sanctions against Castro and complain that President Obama did not get enough from Havana.

In Miami, there were small demonstrations against Obama's actions, despite polls that show broad American support for lifting the 53-year-old trade embargo. Even polls in South Florida show support for closer ties.

In Havana, I spoke to tourism students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to go there and Americans can come here.

AVILA: Cuba and the U.S., just 90 miles apart, will again soon act like it.

For This Week, Jim Avila, ABC News, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Jim Avila for that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: We're joined now by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Thanks for joining us this morning.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been so outspoken this week, Senator Rubio, calling the president's decision inexplicable, absurd, disgraceful.

But when you hear those Cubans, those young Cubans say, we want closer ties to the United States, doesn't that give you pause?

RUBIO: I want closer ties with Cuba, as well, but those closer ties have to come about as a result of a policy that will also ultimately lead to freedom.

And that's my problem with what the president's done here. It's not that I simply want to continue to do with what we've been doing. I'm OK with changing policy toward Cuba.

But it has to be a policy change that has a reasonable chance of achieving freedom -- freedom for the Cuban people.

And I just don't think this pol -- no, let me rephrase that. I know that this policy change that the president has now undertaken will not lead to freedom.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you know that, though, Senator?

What we've seen for the last 50 years is a policy of -- of an embargo, no real ties between the U.S. and Cuba, it hasn't loosened the Castro regime's...

RUBIO: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- hold on the Cuban people at all. And the United States has -- has relations with all kinds of countries that don't meet our democratic standards -- China...

RUBIO: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Saudi Arabia, Russia.

RUBIO: That's exactly my point. We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China. They're not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened. They may have a bigger economy, but their political freedoms, certainly I would not hold up China or Saudi Arabia or Vietnam as examples of political freedom, proving my point, that engagement by itself does not guarantee or even lead to political freedoms.

And that -- the Cuban government controls every aspect of their economy. The whole economy is owned and cooperated by a holding company controlled by Cuban military officials.

They will take more travel, they will take more commerce, they will pocket the vast majority of the money that's generated from it.

And they have already and they intend to follow the model of Vietnam and China, where they can grow their economy, but they don't grow political freedoms. In fact, they repress them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but wouldn't a the United States Embassy there help further that cause of openness?

You have actually said that the United States Embassy in China could be a direct link to the people of China.

Why can't a U.S. Embassy in Cuba be that same direct link to the people of Cuba?

RUBIO: I hope it would be, but there's two reasons why I believe it won't. The first is we already have an interest section in Havana which is pretty large and it's not allowed to operate. It's consistently harassed. Its diplomats are constantly harassed, including breaking in in the middle of the night to the -- to the facilities where they live. They're not allowed to engage with civil society openly. They're not allowed to travel.

They already operate under significant constrict -- restrictions.

And here's my second point and the piece that introduced our interview pointed this out. Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, is going to travel to Cuba the second week in January and she's already made it very clear, human rights and freedom will not be on the agenda.

And so that is not very promising when the person at the State Department, who is in charge -- or will be in charge of this engagement, has already said that human rights will not be on the agenda in the first meeting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pope Francis played a pretty extraordinary role in all of this. And you spoke out about that earlier this week.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people, for a people to truly be free. I think the president of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from, as the people of Italy have, where he now lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you really mean to suggest that the pope hasn't taken up the cause of freedom and democracy?

RUBIO: Well, I was asked a question, what I would say to Pope Francis. And I would ask him to take up the cause of the freedom and liberty of the Cuban people, which is not part of...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hasn't he done that?

RUBIO: -- this engagement.

I haven't heard those statements made. I know -- look, the pope is a spiritual leader and he always, naturally, is going to want to bring people closer together. And I respect that as a spiritual leader.

But I think it's also important to say that people deserve the right to be free. Our certain -- our nation was founded on that principle.

And, by the way, I'm encouraged that President Obama is so influenced by Pope Francis. Perhaps he will follow his lead on the sanctity of life and -- and on -- and on respect for religious liberties, as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be a debate for another day.

I want to get to the debate between you and Rand Paul inside the Republican Party right now.

You guys got in something of a Twitter war over the course of this week on this issue of Cuba. The latest one from Rand Paul saying, "Senator Marco Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism. This seems to be a preview of the debate of 2016."

RUBIO: Well, first of all, Rand, if he wants to become the chief cheerleader of Obama's foreign policy, he certainly has a right to do that.

I'm going to continue to oppose the Opama -- Obama-Paul foreign policy on Cuba because I know it won't lead to freedom and liberty for the Cuban people, which is my sole interest here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's running hard for the nomination.

If he gets it, could you support Rand Paul and his foreign policy, if he were the Republican nominee?

RUBIO: Well, I anticipate -- I anticipate supporting whoever the Republican nominee is and I'm pretty confident that the Republican nominee for president will be someone who has a pretty forceful role -- view of America's role in the world as a defender of democracy and of freedom and also understands that it's important for America to be engaged on the global stage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jeb Bush out there already announcing this week that he's actively exploring a run.

Has he become the man to beat?

RUBIO: Jeb is going to be a very -- if he decides to run, he is going to be a very credible and a very significant candidate in this race. I have tremendous respect for him. So certainly, I think he's deserving of the attention he's receiving. Having worked alongside of him for many years, I can -- I think he would be a very credible and -- and a -- candidate, a very strong candidate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A true conservative?

RUBIO: Yes, I mean Jeb has a record in Florida that people can look at. As I said, I mean I -- I think that Jeb is going to be a very credible, strong candidate if he decides to run.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's also been a mentor of yours. We have that great photo of him handing you the sword when you became speaker of the House down in Florida.

I know you've said that his decision has no bearing on yours, but could you really imagine yourself running against him?

RUBIO: Well, first, let me say I think the presidential primaries are running against anyone. I would imaging the presidential field is going to be quite crowded and there will be multiple people running. And a -- and so, look, for me, the decision isn't based on anyone else, and that's not just exclusively Jeb, that's anyone else who would decide to run.

If someone makes the decision that the best place for them to serve their country, the best place for them to achieve, in my case, an agenda to restore the American dream, if I make the decision that the best place for me to do that is the presidency, then I'm going to run for president.

I haven't made that decision yet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So why would you make a better president than Jeb Bush?

RUBIO: Well, I think ultimately, that first I have to make the decision that that's what I want to do, that that's the best place for me to serve the country at this time. And then I think that's why you have a primary. And that's the greatness about our system of government in comparison to what they have in Cuba, for example, where they don't get to choose their leaders.

We're going to go out. We would campaign, talk to people and ultimately, we wouldn't make that decision, voters would make that decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what will your decision hinge on, finally?

What's going to determine whether you get in or not?

RUBIO: It basically, I have a very strong agenda I'm going to be talking about next year, as well, and it's about restoring the American dream. I truly believe it's what distinguishes us from the rest of the world.

But I think that the dramatic changes to our economy in 21st century have really placed enormous constraints on the middle class. And by the way, I have a book coming out in January, "American Dreams," that outlines that -- that agenda. And if I decide that the presidency is the best place for me to achieve that agenda, I'll run for president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Senator Rubio, thanks for joining us this morning.

RUBIO: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, more on that surprising announcement from Jeb Bush -- how will it scramble the GOP field?

And President Obama shakes off the midterms with six weeks of executive muscle-flexing.

Is it working?

What does it mean for the fourth quarter of his presidency?

We're back in two minutes with the roundtable.

RUBIO: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, more on that surprise announcement from Jeb Bush. How (inaudible) GOP field?

And President Obama shakes off the mid-terms with six weeks of executive muscle flexing. Is it working? What does it mean for the fourth quarter of his presidency? We're back in two minutes with the roundtable.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We just heard Marco Rubio say that Jeb Bush hadn't scared him out of a possible presidential race.

But Bush did surprise most of the political world this week by jumping out so early, becoming the first major candidate to take formal steps toward a run.

Our new ABC News/"Washington Post" Poll shows that famous name may not be enough to pull him away from the pack.

ABC's Jonathan Karl starts us off.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His son may have tipped the family's hand two months ago...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: it's more than likely that he's giving this a serious thought and move -- and moving forward.

KARL (on camera): More than likely that he'll run?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: that he'll run.

KARL (voice-over): And John Boehner, a month before that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said he had been trying to nudge Jeb Bush into -- into thinking about running.

Any success?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He's had plenty of opportunities to tell me to stop and he hasn't.

KARL: But somehow, pundits thought it was just talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unlikely, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of nervousness that Jeb Bush won't run.

KARL: So Jeb Bush caught most of us off guard, when, in a Season's Greetings Facebook post, he changed the game for 2016. Happy Hanukkah, I'm actively exploring the possibility of running for president.

A game-changer, to be sure, and one that may ruin Christmas for other Republicans thinking about getting into the race.

Here's the problem. Every four years, it seems big money GOP donors get behind one establishment candidate. And a Bush is the elephant in the room of elephants.

But for every advantage the swing state, Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush might have in a general election, he has liabilities in the primaries.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And yes, I'll take on the GOP establishment.

KARL: He famously said, illegal immigration is...

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: A different kind of crime. It's an act of love.

KARL: And this...

BUSH: The rigor of the common core state standards must be the new minimum in classrooms.

KARL: Conservatives have another word for that -- ObamaCore.

Then there's Bush's friendship with the Clintons. That's some seriously toxic stuff for many in his party.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Jeb Bush is a rhino, as an active Tea Party member, I could never vote for him.

KARL: Even the Bush family has been conflicted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've got a split ballot amongst the Bush, Sr. family.

KARL: Then there's mom.

BARBARA BUSH: We've had enough Bushes.

He is the best qualified person in the country. I would hope that someone else would run.

KARL: Whether his mother is into it or not, if the establishment winds up and the Tea Party is as divided as it was in 2012, the man some call a rhino could also be called something else -- the frontrunner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeb Bush.

KARL: For THIS WEEK, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let's talk about that now with our roundtable.

We're joined by Cokie Roberts, Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard," Democrat Howard Dean, the former presidential campaign, governor of Vermont, and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

And, Ana, I have to begin with you. You're close to Jeb Bush. You're close to Marco Rubio. Neither one getting out, yet putting in a little bit of a tough position.

But did it surprise you that Jeb got in in this formal way so early?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Actually, it didn't. And the reason it didn't is because he has been telling us for the longest time that he set a time line for himself for the end of the year. And this is one of the things that you learn about Jeb Bush, he says what he means, he means what he says.

He had his process. He thought about the factors. And he's decided to move on to this new stage by the time line that he set for himself.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill Kristol, we have gotten these rumblings before Jeb Bush's announcement that a lot of the big Republican money people were trying to coalesce behind a single candidate. It seemed like Bush was trying to get out there and say I'm the guy early on.

Did it make a difference?

Did it freeze people?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I guess we'll see. I mean I -- I think it was smart -- if he was going to run, which I guess he is, he was smart to go early, I think, and not look coy and wink, wink and nod, nod. He has to get out there and try to clear the field on the establishment side.

I think what is going to happen now is that Marco Rubio is not intimidated. You saw that in his interview with you. And I suspect he'll announce in early to mid-January. And I think Chris Christie's timetable gets moved up.

And I am much less confident than everyone else in Washington that Jeb Bush beats Marco Rubio...

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

KRISTOL: -- or Chris Christie in an actual Republican primary...

ROBERTS: I -- that's right.

KRISTOL: -- with voters.

ROBERTS: I think that's right. I think that it's a very hard Republican field to win in if you are the establishment candidate and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though the establishment candidate always wins.

ROBERTS: It -- has always won.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

ROBERTS: And we're living in a different political environment. And being the establishment -- you know, the -- the lobbying on Capitol Hill at the end of session is really exemplative of this. Jamie Dimon calling people to lobby them...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The head of JPMorgan.

ROBERTS: -- it -- the head of JPMorgan -- the effect of that was for people to say, this evil person is calling us, we should do exactly the opposite of what he says. And I think that could be the case with the...

NAVARRO: Yes, it's...

ROBERTS: -- Republican...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: -- it's somewhat fascinating to me that the guy who's been out of public office, who is not a Washington creature, who proved to be a reformer as governor is being referred to as the establishment candidate, as something that is, you know, not...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he is the brother and son...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- doesn't have a name...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Well, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- heavy.

NAVARRO: Well, you know, OK, well, then...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: -- to Hillary Clinton as the Democratic establishment candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is.

NAVARRO: OK.

KRISTOL: And that's why some of us are so horrified at the idea of a Bush-Clinton race.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Don't worry about it. You'll survive.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: I will. I will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Howard Dean, I saw you listening to everybody talking about the Republican field and you just had a big grin on your face.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: I think a -- I think Jeb does some very interesting things.

First of all, I think he'd be a formidable candidate if he wins the nomination.

Second of all, I think he's got a really tough roe to hope to win the nomination for the reasons these folks were talking about.

And third of all, I think he does move people out of the race. Marco Rubio can't raise money anymore. He's done. Mitt...

KRISTOL: I totally disagree with that.

DEAN: -- Mitt -- well, OK. This is...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: It's a new world...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: -- makes a good show.

KRISTOL: It's a new world of fundraising, I think, Howard.

DEAN: I...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Let me tell you, do not underestimate Marco. I remember when Marco Rubio had nobody behind him. I was one of the few people who was when he was running against Charlie Crist. He's got extraordinary political...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Governor, you would...

DEAN: -- Charlie Crist is not Jeb Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: I think that this started the whole new way...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROBERTS: -- of fundraising and that it really is...

DEAN: What is -- what is Marco Rubio's base?

He's -- he's -- in the Tea Party, he's in trouble because of his immigration views, which he's desperately trying to back pedal.

ROBERTS: Right.

DEAN: He's got this formidable person who was the governor in his home state who's going to take all the, quote, unquote, establishment money out.

I don't understand how Marco Rubio is going to raise any money the way we did...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: And I remember that.

NAVARRO: I am a huge Marco Rubio fan and I'm also the only person around this table who was his constituent. And I thought...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: -- I really hope see -- he stays, because he has said he either does one or the other. And I think we've seen the -- this week just what a crucial role he's playing on foreign relations. He's slated to be the next chairman...

ROBERTS: She's telling him not to run.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: She's...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to go to...

KRISTOL: Ana, I think -- wait a minute. One thing. He's...

NAVARRO: But he has...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: -- he knocked Mitt Romney out of the race.

NAVARRO: Who?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I do think that's the biggest impact...

ROBERTS: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- of Jeb Bush getting in this early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- indeed...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: And if he were...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- draft of Mitt Romney.

But I want to go to Bill Kristol with something else.

We saw Rand Paul get into this fight with -- with Marco Rubio this week. He seems to be the newest kind of Republican candidate this time around, who's -- who's certainly seems to have the ambition and the drive to go all the way.

KRISTOL: He's certainly going to run. I -- I don't think he'll take it all the way, and not because of anything personal about Rand Paul. I just think the views he has on foreign policy are the views of, I don't know, 15, 20 percent of the party. I mean just think on the Cuba issue. Marco Rubio has probably 40 senators who agree with him, the entire leadership, all the other presidential candidates. And Rand Paul is by himself.

Now, that gives him a nice niche. He can get on more media attention than Christie and Rubio and Walker and...

NAVARRO: And that's, you know...

KRISTOL: -- and all -- and all the guys who are fighting for the...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Look, the real...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: The Republicans are going to nominate a hawkish -- a hawkish presidential candidate, I think.

NAVARRO: But -- but it's consistent with what Rand Paul has done all along, which is he's -- he picks fights and it's a way for, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For him to get attention.

NAVARRO: -- (INAUDIBLE) to get attention.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: He did it with...

ROBERTS: -- but, you know, Jeb Bush, we don't have a clue who the nominee is. And that's what makes...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I know...

ROBERTS: -- it so interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.

ROBERTS: And all of these guys and maybe some women...

NAVARRO: And the Democrat side...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: -- is looking so darned boring.

ROBERTS: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we'll get into that later.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: More competent. A nice -- a nice contrast.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, guys, before we go to break, our Powerhouse Puzzler.

It's inspired by the president's big Cuba announcement. Name the last sitting president to visit Cuba.

Back in two minutes with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, does anyone know the answer? Who was the last sitting president to visit Cuba? Let's see the white boards. Howard Dean: Woodrow Wilson. Close, Teddy Roosevelt, Rough Rider. Close. Hoover, Hoover, you guys were all over it. It was Calvin Coolidge back in 1928. There it is.

Jimmy Carter...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: We were close. We were close.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Julie Pace (ph).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Cuba being at the end of your presidency?

OBAMA: Leslie Clark (ph).

QUESTION: I wanted to see if you got any assurances from the Cuban government.

OBAMA: Roberta Ramsen (ph).

QUESTION: Under what conditions would you meet with President Castro?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Obama making a little history on Friday, his traditional end-of-year press conference. Every single reporter called on a woman. As far as we can tell, the first time that ever happened.

ROBERTS: I'm sure it is. I'm quite sure it is.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Cokie, you know, that was remarkable on its own, but the president had a pretty remarkable December, six weeks after that midterm shellacking. We saw him come out the day after the midterms looking defeated. A month later, six weeks later, all of these executive actions on China, on immigration, Cuba this week. He's in a different place.

ROBERTS: And clearly it showed. He was up. He was having some fun with the press, which is not his norm. And he was touting the successes of America. And I think that that has been something that he has been hesitant to do because there are still an awful lot of people hurting.

But the employment numbers are so much better. The stock market, of course, is booming. And I think he wants to take some credit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has definitely tried to take the credit. Bill Kristol, we also did see this pattern of the president acting on his own. When he was doing it on immigration, it looked a little bit like sour grapes but he says, I'm going to make an advancement for those undocumented immigrants.

In Cuba, faces opposition from Republicans, but the country likely to be behind him?

KRISTOL: I think there's a lot of deference to presidents and it's not a huge -- the normalization...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Yes, it's just not dramatic enough compared to the incredible concessions we're making elsewhere in the world, and the incredible retreat we're engaged in elsewhere in the world.

But, look, I give the president credit. He has a strong view of the world. He has a strong view of domestic policy. And he has decided I'm liberated in a way by the elections, I'm advancing it as much as I can.

It's up to Republicans to stop complaining about the president doing this and to oppose him and to lay out an alternate vision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's the vision?

NAVARRO: Well, I think on Cuba he definitely is going to get opposition. I think it's easier to oppose him on Cuba than it is on immigration. Immigration is self-funded by the fees. On Cuba there's a lot of the things that he is proposing that need to go through Congress where he's going to have to deal with the wall that are the Cuban-Americans in Congress.

Because Democrat, like Bob Menendez or Albio Sires from New Jersey, and Republicans are very united in Congress against this type of normalization.

I also think, frankly, we got too little for this historical significant change. We got Alan Gross, who should have never been jailed in the first place. It looked like the swap of spies for the guy...

ROBERTS: Wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: There was another spy.

ROBERTS: There was a spy and apparently it was a very, very useful spy.

NAVARRO: OK, that -- yes, but, but can I tell you something, it looks like -- it smells like a swap and looks like a swap and it sounds like a swap.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Well, except you can say it's a swap...

NAVARRO: But let me also say this -- let me say this, there are 70, 70, Cokie, U.S. fugitives of justice, including a very bad person named JoAnne Chesimard, who did something very similar to what happened last night.

She executed -- you know, executed style murdered a New Jersey trooper, who has been living freely, along with over 70 other U.S. fugitives from justice. If we had gotten some of that in exchange for normalization, I would say OK.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: ... political prisoners seem to be coming out, but the other thing we've gotten is American businesses very excited about this. This is an economic boon.

DEAN: Yes, you know, I'm with the president on this one because he's right, 50 years of a policy that doesn't work probably ought to be looked at. And that's what he's going to do. And I think it makes a lot of sense.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has he run into the limit though of what he can do on his own? It seems like he was getting a lot done before the lame duck before Republicans have united opposition, united control of both the House and the Senate. Won't he have to find places where he can actually work with the Republicans?

DEAN: Well, that -- yes, and I think, my own guess is, and this is a hopeful guess, is that the Republicans actually want to get something done, which they haven't for four years.

McConnell has got a lot on the line here. He's now the majority leader. If they don't deliver, it's hard to make a case that you should have a Republican running anything in 2016, so I actually think it is possible that they will strike a very difficult bargain for both sides.

ROBERTS: And they say to me, the Republican leaders, that they really do want to get something done, and they were really mad at Ted Cruz. Now, the Democrats were really mad at Elizabeth Warren too.

But you had -- you really have some people there now who at least claim to be willing to get some work done.

KRISTOL: The first thing they should do is stop a horrible deal with the mullahs in Iran. They can also -- and there's a lot Republicans can do, but a lot of what they have to do is to stop and check the president of the United States. They only control Congress and lay the groundwork for 2016 and 2017.

DEAN: If they do that for the next two years, I think whoever you nominate is toast. What people want to see is progress and it can't be just stop the president...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: The Democrats fought pretty hard in 2007-2008 against George W. Bush, and it didn't seem to hurt Barack Obama at all in November of 2008.

NAVARRO: President Obama told us last in the State of the Union that he was going to use the power of the pen, that he was going to do a lot of things through executive order. The best way Republicans can stop him is by legislating and doing some things on our own.

DEAN: I think that's right, I agree.

NAVARRO: You know, and I think that that's where the focus should be on, get some proactive things done.

ROBERTS: And, you know, there are some very interesting new members who we never talked about during the election, because they didn't have any real opposition. You know, we only talk about the tight races, but you've got some people like Ben Sasse from Nebraska who has come in -- you've got Shelley Capito Moore (sic) from West Virginia.

These are people who are going to work across the aisle and it'll be a different Senate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One place that might be needed now, and I wanted to close with this, this killing last night here in New York, assassination of two police officers in cold blood.

Howard Dean, you know, we've seen how polarized this debate can get. Could this be an opportunity to create...

DEAN: It is an opportunity. I mean, first of all I think this guy was probably crazy more than he was some sort of a I hate -- you know, this is in revenge for something. But nonetheless, this is an explosive situation. You've got a chairman -- or a president of the police union who is a polarizing guy. You've got the mayor who has said some polarizing things. They need to get this -- bring this together.

I thought Ray Kelly did a good job on the show earlier on. This is a big deal. You cannot have a society -- we're not going to go back to the 60s where we're having gangsters with guns running around shooting people who are sitting in their police cars.

And it's a big deal -- and the president himself needs to speak out about this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he had (inaudible) Bill Kristol?

KRISTOL: Well, it's terrible what happened. And I mean, I hope liberals show as much concern about Officer Ramos and Officer Liu as they did about Mr. Garner and Mr. Martin (sic) and we'll see what we'll see.

I think de Blasio said some really foolish things. I'm not blaming him, obviously, for the killing, but he really needs to not just say I'm now for everyone coming together, he needs to say I was wrong. I was wrong when I attacked the police in such a general way.

FEMALE: And these are people who protect us. And here they were shot for the simple reason that they wore that uniform. And that uniform is there to protect Americans. And I think that we have to really honor that as we go into this holiday time, particularly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that will be the last word today. Thank you all very much.

Up next, our Sunday spotlight looks back at a holiday tale from World War I.

ANNOUNCER: Catch This Week online all week at ABCNews.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those ceramic poppies in the Tower of London were set out this fall to commemorate the British soldiers who died in World War I, nearly 900,000. And in our Sunday spotlight, a legendary tale from that war, the Christmas truce. 100 years ago this week a story passed down of soldiers putting down their weapons to play a game of soccer. ABC's Hamish McDonald tells the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMISH MCDONALD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: On a football pitch in the south of England they are here to do battle and to remember. It's the British army against the Germany army tonight, those great historic enemies united for a brief moment just as they were 100 years ago.

It was Christmas Eve 1914 on the western front. The great war was entering its first dark winter.

This recently discovered letter, written home by British general Walter Congreve details an extraordinary truce: soldiers coming out of the trenches cautiously, then walking about together all day giving each other cigars and singing songs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Although they were soldiers, they're professional soldiers fighting against each other, they were still human beings. And they went out and, you know, armed only with their humanity and with their courage.

MCDONALD: But there is one detail of this Christmas truce that has captured the public imagination here more than anything, General Congreve wrote, "I hear it was further north first rifle brigade playing football with the Germans."

One British supermarket chain has made this story the centerpiece of this year's Christmas advertising campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Otto.

MCDONALD: Soldiers play a football friendly in a touching nostalgic portrayal that historians say it may be stretching the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wouldn't have been 11 men against 11 with a pitch marked out and, you know, 90 minutes and a referee and so forth, because it was no man's land. It was, you know, covered in shell holes. Even if there was no organized game, there is enough evidence to suggest that something happened then.

MCDONALD: Whether it happened or not, the idea of a football truce has become iconic. This month, using the Twitter hashtag #footballremembers thousands of pubs across Britain have posted united team photos in tribute. And tonight, they're here to see the British and German armies pay tribute, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's absolutely essential, I think, that we have this sort of celebration -- is that the right word -- of that event despite the terrible consequences that surrounded it.

MCDONALD: In the crowd, hundreds of optimistic army recruits.

Gives you a sense of hope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, hope as well, that even in the baddest times people can still get on and put their weapons down and have a kick about, have a game of football.

MCDONALD: So, it's a lot of conjecture about whether that really happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, really. But it's a nice story, isn't it, even if it didn't happen.

MCDONALD: The details of this story remain far from settled, but they settled this match with a single goal 1-0 to the British.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to be a part of -- I'll always remember for the rest of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was amazing for the whole team.

MCDONALD: Legend has it they sang Silent Night in English and in German across the trenches back in 1914, but it may be the truth of this football truce lies not in the detail, rather in the meaning that soldiers wherever and whenever they serve will always look forward to the moment the battlefield falls quiet to that one silent night.

For This Week, Hamish McDonald, ABC News, Aldershot (ph), England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we all join them in that.

We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon announced the death of two soldiers in Afghanistan.

And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News tonight and have a wonderful Christmas week.